Gat Kimchi or Korean “Wild Mustard” Kimchi

Jeolla Do Mustard is a variety of wild mustard from the Jeolla Do province of Korea. Long, hearty stems and large, coarse leaves, this purple and green hairy plant is a lot like Kale when it comes to cooking and eating- crunchy and with a lot of texture.  And because it is a mustard variety, it has a bitter but earthy flavor to it which could add a delicious contrast to all kinds of savory dishes.  When eaten raw, the bitterness is at its peak, sharp and spicy. When cooked, the bitterness mellows and you are left with a mild sweet earthiness to it, a lot like kale or collard greens.

In Jeolla Do, the most popular use of this beautiful plant is for Gat (mustard leaf) Kimchi, a spicy, garlicky and peppery fermented dish-a perfect pairing with grilled meats, in stews, sauces or as a snack. It is extremely easy to make and because this mustard grows to such a large size and in abundance, this recipe makes it easy to use up a lot of greens if you end up with a few pounds of it!

In addition to Kimchi, this mustard will also go excellent in stews, salads or even roasted in the oven like kale. There is a lot you can do with this strange and unusual vegetable and I will provide more recipes for my Radical Family [Farms] Friends to follow, but for now, please enjoy trying out this recipe for Gat Kimchi! If you like standard cabbage kimchi, this will blow your mind!

Gat Kimchi

Makes about 2 cups of kimchi

2lbs Mustard Greens, leaves and stems chopped into pieces 1inch long, ends tailed and discarded.  Some recipes discard the stems but I keep them in for sudden bursts of crunchiness.  Others also cut the leaves in half lengthwise first, but I just worked with the full width of the leaves.

Salt Brine:

4 cups Water

6T sea salt– Non-iodized as the iodization halts the fermentation process.

Note: the brine is 1.5T sea salt to 1 cup of water.

Kimchi Paste:

3-4 cloves (or more!) Garlic, crushed into a paste. You can do this with a pinch of salt, it will break down the garlic as you crush it in a mortar and pestle or with the flat edge of your knife.

3T Gochugaru (or more!), Korean Chili Powder- You could also try Indian chili powder, cayenne or paprika, but taste test as you measure it out, you will likely have to adjust the measurements.

1.5T Fish Sauce– or Soy Sauce if you are vegan.

1.5T Pickling Brine

1 sealable jar, big enough for 2 cups,sterilized by pouring boiling water into it, pouring it out and allowing it to airdry.

After preparing your mustard, put it into a large bowl or pickling pot.  Make a salt brine by dissolving your salt in the water and then pour it over your mustard greens.  It may not completely cover the greens at start- that’s ok.  Get a plate or something similar that is just within the diameter of your bowl, and place it over the mustard and water. Use a stone or something heavy to weigh the plate down. The water will rise the cover the greens with the weight. Cover with a towel and let soak for about 2 hours.

While the mustard is soaking, prepare your kimchi paste by incorporating all the ingredients together into a paste and set aside.

After the 2 hours have passed, drain the mustard and squeeze the excess liquid out (you don’t need to be too precious about it) but do not rinse it. Rinse and dry your bowl and put the squeezed-out mustard back in.  Put in your kimchi paste and using your hands, massage the paste into the mustard. Next, layer the kimchi into the jars. This ensures that there are no air-bubbles and that all the kimchi can remain in its pasty brine. It also helps you fit more into the jars. After filling your jars, use a fork to gently press down on the top to remove any extra air-bubbles. Put the lid on, sealing the jar. Now the rest is up to you. You can put it into the fridge, wait 24 hours and start using it. OR you can leave it in a dark, cool cupboard for a week minimum to let it ferment. I usually prefer my kimchis to ferment for at least 2 weeks before digging in but it’s all up to personal taste. Just remember, once you’ve opened it and started eating it, keep it in the fridge.  It should last a few months in there….if you don’t eat it all at once!

Enjoy your Gat Kimchi with meat dishes, cook it into stews, sauces or just enjoy as a snack!

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